October 02, 2014, 07:38:56 AM

Author Topic: Film is still hard to beat  (Read 25975 times)

dirtcastle

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 391
    • View Profile
    • Eric Nord Flickr Page
Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #30 on: May 19, 2012, 07:50:08 PM »
.
For those who think they need a "scientist" to tell them whether they should like a picture, poet Walt Whitman had some advice:


When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before
   me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and
   measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with
   much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.



I'm just genuinely curious about the scientific difference. I'm not tyring to figure out which is better from a Whitmanesque "mystical" point of view. It should go without saying that amazing beautiful pics can be taken with BOTH. That isn't really the core question, imo.

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #30 on: May 19, 2012, 07:50:08 PM »

mws

  • EOS M2
  • ****
  • Posts: 182
    • View Profile
Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #31 on: May 19, 2012, 07:52:17 PM »
The real question is how many stops of DR can the human eye resolve. For film the DR behaves like a continuous function, for digital it is discrete. If digital can capture more DR then the human eye can resolve, then the debate may change.

The point is moot unless you are printing your pictures in the dark room. I develop my own B&W, but then scan the negatives just out of convenience.

It's only a matter of time until digital can totally beat film in every aspect, but I still don't think that this would totally kill off film.

Danielle

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 134
    • View Profile
Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #32 on: May 19, 2012, 08:04:37 PM »
This is about the fact that good film shots will always look better than average digital ones and vice versa, no matter how good digital capture ever becomes, and that film and digital will probably always look just a little different. Furthermore, if digital ever comes so close to being able to mimic the film look perfectly, who will care? Digital enthusiasts aren't really looking for it, and film lovers already have it. Go figure.

+1

I'll just continue using both.

dirtcastle

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 391
    • View Profile
    • Eric Nord Flickr Page
Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #33 on: May 19, 2012, 08:17:48 PM »
The real question is how many stops of DR can the human eye resolve. For film the DR behaves like a continuous function, for digital it is discrete.

Doesn't it depend on the level of analysis? Photons are discrete, right? Cells are discrete, right? Analog photography is also discrete, but it relies on a process (more hardware, less chemical) to transfer the data from one level of discretion to another.

Policar

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 412
    • View Profile
Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #34 on: May 19, 2012, 08:25:45 PM »
I'm just genuinely curious about the scientific difference. I'm not tyring to figure out which is better from a Whitmanesque "mystical" point of view. It should go without saying that amazing beautiful pics can be taken with BOTH. That isn't really the core question, imo.

Why would you care about the scientific difference?  Isn't the point entirely how it looks?  How do you even measure that scientifically?  Color gamut?  Acutance?  Resolution?  At how many lp/mm?  Zeiss lenses were designed for good micro contrast but worse resolution...is that better or worse and in what contexts?  Is grain good or bad?  What colors (if any) do you like?  How do you feel about false detail (aliasing), is it nice and sharp and crunchy or disgusting to you?  Is a lack of DR good or bad?  (This is a tricky question--printed images only have four or five stops of contrast at best so a capture with more DR than that looks flat when printed, but one without enough loses detail--the answer is of course subjective and it's based on the subject and light and how the image is developed.)

As a scientific instrument, digital is way better.  Astronomers (appropriately enough) switched from film to CCDs in the 1970s and have not looked back.  The simple answer here is that digital is WAY better in general.

In terms of signal/noise ratio, digital is just way better.  Way, way better.  No argument from anyone.  But some people like film grain because it looks more random and smooth.  The 5D Mark III I have found has pretty ugly noise, imo, while some digital cameras have amazing beautiful noise with a great texture--so that's a whole other subjective discussion.

In terms of resolution it's complicated.  Velvia (a very sharp color film) has mtf curves that resolve without aliasing to about 60 or 80 cycles/mm (at like 30% mtf).  The D800 has about 200 pixels per mm or 100 cycles/mm.  As per the nyquist sampling theorem that means 50 cycles/mm without aliasing and that's not even taking into account bayer interpolation.  So it sounds like digital is much worse here, but it's not!  Velvia drops off from >100% mtf to <100mtf around 20 cycles/mm but bayer sensors resolve to about 100% mtf until almost 70% of their stated resolution.  I think.  Without an antialiasing filter, the D800E might resolve 100% mtf (>100% mtf once sharpened) until 70 or 80 cycles/mm.  Of course there might be aliasing, which is a problem....except that aliasing looks subjectively like detail, so you might get the appearance of >100% mtf until or extinction with the D800E.  The best measure of subjective sharpness is the area under the mtf curve, which in that case would be dramatically larger for the D800E than for a slide of Velvia.  Even though, in theory, the Velvia can resolve to a higher resolution without aliasing.  Of course you need to scan film and even a drum scanner will knock off quite a bit of mtf from the system.

Imo, the combination of reduced noise/grain and increased mtf puts state of the art digital at twice the linear resolution of film.  Digital printing's vast superiority to darkroom color printing tips the tables even way further.  APS-C looks like 645 to me.  Full frame looks like 6x7.  But I prefer how 6x7 Velvia looks to how the images from my 5D III look by a pretty enormous margin.  Even though I can't explain why and even though others don't.

In terms of DR, it depends on which film (black and white negative can have easily way in excess of 10 stops, all of which are usable if you dodge and burn; Velvia has five stops maybe) and how you measure it (how much noise/grain is too much and if a soft highlight rolloff that doesn't contain recoverable detail but still looks nice counts as real DR).

In terms of color gamut, digital is more accurate but film can have a wider gamut in theory.  Once scanner...doesn't matter as much, the gamut is squished.  And some films have more vivid colors because the spectral sensitivity curves reject more colors than the weak bayer filters on digital SLRs.

But yeah, digital wins for a given sensor size by far.  Large format film (Velvia 50, specifically) is by far my favorite in terms of aesthetics, but the price is high and you need to be very careful about light due to the limited DR and how easy it is to blow an exposure.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2012, 08:28:55 PM by Policar »

mws

  • EOS M2
  • ****
  • Posts: 182
    • View Profile
Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #35 on: May 19, 2012, 08:31:28 PM »
The real question is how many stops of DR can the human eye resolve. For film the DR behaves like a continuous function, for digital it is discrete.

Doesn't it depend on the level of analysis? Photons are discrete, right? Cells are discrete, right? Analog photography is also discrete, but it relies on a process (more hardware, less chemical) to transfer the data from one level of discretion to another.

True, I guess I didnt think that through. In general I guess I would say that right now film has more DR then digital.

dirtcastle

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 391
    • View Profile
    • Eric Nord Flickr Page
Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #36 on: May 19, 2012, 08:32:06 PM »
I'm just genuinely curious about the scientific difference. I'm not tyring to figure out which is better from a Whitmanesque "mystical" point of view. It should go without saying that amazing beautiful pics can be taken with BOTH. That isn't really the core question, imo.

Why would you care about the scientific difference?  Isn't the point entirely how it looks?  How do you even measure that scientifically?

You're surprised to find tech geeks on a photography forum?  ;)

Thanks for the in-depth breakdown... really appreciate that!
« Last Edit: May 19, 2012, 08:35:45 PM by dirtcastle »

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #36 on: May 19, 2012, 08:32:06 PM »

Policar

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 412
    • View Profile
Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #37 on: May 19, 2012, 08:36:28 PM »
You're surprised to find tech geeks on a camera forum?

I guess I shouldn't be, but it seems so simple to look at the results from two cameras and decide which is better and so complicated to try and interpret the science of human perception and the science of image recording (neither of which any of us here really understand to a significant extent) and then apply that. 

But in the sciences everything has switched to digital...and so for scientific purposes...yeah, it's by far the best.  And FX digital probably trounces 135 in general.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2012, 08:39:03 PM by Policar »

dirtcastle

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 391
    • View Profile
    • Eric Nord Flickr Page
Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #38 on: May 19, 2012, 08:57:45 PM »
You're surprised to find tech geeks on a camera forum?

I guess I shouldn't be, but it seems so simple to look at the results from two cameras and decide which is better and so complicated to try and interpret the science of human perception and the science of image recording (neither of which any of us here really understand to a significant extent) and then apply that. 

I was always turned off by film photography because I didn't find it user-friendly. As soon as digital cameras started competing with film... I was all over it. Even if I could get the same outcome with a film camera... I find the digital process allows me to focus more on -- and get more control over -- the final product. Sorry for the pun.

Policar

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 412
    • View Profile
Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #39 on: May 19, 2012, 10:50:38 PM »
Modern SLRs (even the F4, which I briefly owned and quite liked) behave a lot like dSLRs except the ISO isn't adjustable on a per-shot basis, of course.

In terms of user interface, I prefer manual focus SLRs (135 and 6x7) to dSLRs and even to modern SLRs because the interface is so much simpler and you don't need to replace batteries.  Set your stop, meter your scene externally (spot or incident as appropriate) and decide on an exposure, set your shutter speed appropriately, focus, take a photo.  There are only three variables:  focus, f-stop, and shutter speed.  With a dSLR it's like using a computer, so complicated and there are so many modes for everything.  I still have no idea how to change focus setting appropriately with my 5D III and no idea what P mode does.

Large format is difficult enough to shoot that it's materially more painful than shooting digital, but 135 (either on a modern SLR or an older one) is nothing to be afraid of except that there's no longer any real reason to shoot it except nostalgia or fun.

Hillsilly

  • 1D Mark IV
  • ******
  • Posts: 772
    • View Profile
Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #40 on: May 19, 2012, 10:54:34 PM »
Hi Dirtcastle, after Policar's explanation, I don't really have anything to add.  But I'll just mention one thing.  The problem with providing a direct comparison to decide which is technically better is that people often compare scanned negatives with DSLR files.  This is a problem because the scanning process produces a lower quality file compared with the original negative.   You'll hear a lot of people say that a negative has a similar amount of data to a 20 - 25mp camera.  But I'd say that a "scanned" negative file might be lucky to have one third of that claimed resolution.  Therefore, given that good scanning is hard to do anyway, if you enjoy digital workflow, then a DSLR is going to better.  Realistically, way better.  But the answer changes if you are comparing medium format and large format film where the film negative area is many multiples larger.

So why bother with film?  Policar mentions one of my favourite films - velvia. Velvia is a high saturation / high contrast film and can produce spectacular reds and oranges (ie sunsets) - something that many DSLRs struggle with.  Greens and blues also looks awesome and it is a really good medium if you are taking nature or landscape photos (assuming you don't care about realistic colour).  It can take a bit of PP to make a digital file look as good.  And a really good medium format or large format negative, when viewed on a lightbox through a loupe, has a 3D effect that is captivating and difficult to achieve with a DSLR.  These days, film also gives your photos a different look.  There is no way you'd mistake a velvia photo for a HDR enhanced digital file.

The other reason why I personally shoot film is because I'm not a professional photographer.  Instead, I have a job where I'm in front of a computer all day.  I equate computers with work and the last thing I want to do at home is more work on a computer.  But that's just me.
1000FN | 7E | 3000 | 3 | LS-100TS

unkbob

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 114
    • View Profile
Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #41 on: May 19, 2012, 11:06:44 PM »
"Film is still hard to beat"--not cost-wise.   ;)
I dunno, I just got my EOS 3 off ebay for $150 shipped.
at $12 a roll of film plus $8 developing, how many rolls do I have to shoot to equal a 5D3 body?

If the roll has 36 exposures then each image costs you 55.55 cents. You've spent $150 on your film body. A 5D3 costs $3499. So you can take around 6000 photos before your costs catch up to that of a 5D3. For a professional, that's not many images, although you won't be as trigger-happy with film as you would be with digital.

Also, there are cheaper full frame digital cameras out there than the 5D3. Compare your film costs to buying a used 5D or even a 5D2 and the economics are very different.


dirtcastle

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 391
    • View Profile
    • Eric Nord Flickr Page
Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #42 on: May 19, 2012, 11:36:57 PM »
Thanks for the great responses. I also work in front of computers all day. But I'm a digital designer, so digital photography is a natural extension. In fact, I sorta rediscovered Photoshop when I became a photographer a few years ago.

I'm definitely not one of those people who feel that specs make better photos: I feel that 90% of photography is composition and lighting. But I also admit that I use Photoshop to make up for a lot of shortcomings in my lighting and exposure. And again, that's another reason why I like digital... as long as my composition is OK, I can adjust later. That enables me to get waaay more good shots than I would otherwise get. People think I'm a good photographer, but I'm actually much better at editing than shooting. I'm an average shooter.

Having made my case for digital, I still see reasons why film shooting still has its place. It forces you to work on your lighting and exposure. And the the variety of film types can get results that might be laborious and difficult to achieve in Photoshop. Plus, if you're good with film... then you're good to go.

I also feel like there is a bit more of an experimental/unpredictable aspect to film. Sometimes it is easy to experiment with digital processing. But achieving unique results in Photoshop/LR can be a laborious process. To me, that's one of the merits of film photography... it sometimes gets great, unique results in a short amount of time. An expert Photoshopper can go beyond the limits of film processing (obviously), but learning Photoshop at that level takes major commitment and skill.

And it's true that, for a lot of people, computers take the fun out of photography. And I don't think there's anything irrational about that. I would rather be a painter than be on the computer all day, but I'm better at Photoshop... so that's what I do.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2012, 12:26:51 AM by dirtcastle »

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #42 on: May 19, 2012, 11:36:57 PM »

FunPhotons

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 405
    • View Profile
Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #43 on: May 20, 2012, 12:46:07 AM »
"Film is still hard to beat"--not cost-wise.   ;)
I dunno, I just got my EOS 3 off ebay for $150 shipped.
at $12 a roll of film plus $8 developing, how many rolls do I have to shoot to equal a 5D3 body?

If the roll has 36 exposures then each image costs you 55.55 cents. You've spent $150 on your film body. A 5D3 costs $3499. So you can take around 6000 photos before your costs catch up to that of a 5D3. For a professional, that's not many images, although you won't be as trigger-happy with film as you would be with digital.

I shoot at least 1k photos on a three day vacation, sometimes upwards of 2k. Over the course of a year I shoot at least 10k pictures, I try to do about 100 pics per day. A lot of it is learning, I learn a little bit more (usually) with each shot. But buried in there are some really good pictures (non professional and zero interest in going professional)


When I shot film I'd do a few canisters on a vacation, hate the cost, and miss 99% of the shots I could be taking. No way is film economical, I happily just 'blew' about 300 shots on a  nephews birthday party, and some of them are really good. Never would have done that in film days - never mind the extra goodies like now I can do work in post in a civilized manner (no stinking chemicals in a stupid darkroom)

As far as I'm concerned digital equipment is free. A vacation in film is roughly equal to the cost of a 'L' lens.

itsnotmeyouknow

  • EOS M2
  • ****
  • Posts: 238
    • View Profile
Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #44 on: May 20, 2012, 03:42:52 AM »
90 - 95% of what I shoot is digital.  Yes its more immediate and convenient.  For me it is a different medium from film.  As great as digital is, I think there have been two consequences as a result:

I think it has become more scientific than artistic and so we are inclined to overanalyse and pixel peep at the risk of missing the whole.  Many shots are sharpened to an inch of its life because of the obsession with sharpness. 

Secondly because there is no cost in consumables once you've made the down payment of buying the camera, I suspect we actually print far less.  We spend more time displaying our works on forums at 800 px size photos and yet many people whinge about the 5D3 having 'only' 22mp compared to the 36mp of D800 and then use less than 1mp of it in a small low res web shot. Yes I know the advantages of being able to crop.  But I think that digital photography has made many of us lazy.  The real cost is losing the quality shot because we don't take the time to find the shot.  I'd question whether it is really an advantage at all to be able to just snap away. 

How much control are we giving away to the computer in the camera? Shooting full manual - manual exposure and manual focus would slow you down quite a bit (and yes this is where digital can come into its own - but a good incident meter is far more accurate than a DSLRs meter). 

Shooting medium format film has taught me a lot, and has improved my digital photography a great deal.  I do feel that we get too obsessed with specs and pixel peeping that we lose sight of the real goal.

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Film is still hard to beat
« Reply #44 on: May 20, 2012, 03:42:52 AM »